@carbonga asked over on the Photo of the week thread about my experience with the S20+. Instead of derailing that thread, I’ve started a new thread to discuss the S20 series.
Edit: This is a thread where anybody can make comments about their S20 (whatever) or for others to ask questions.
I had a Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which is a great phone, but the updates stopped with the Android December security updates (i.e. mid January update), but my Mate 10 Pro and my P20 (company phone) had alread started alternating monthly updates - one would get the update in September, the other in October, the first again in November. Up until that point they had both been receiving monthly security updates. Both were on Android 9, but with the embargo, no hope of 10 or 11, but for me, it was the security updates that matter.
Therefore I started looking around. The Galaxy was more than I wanted to spend, but it came with the free buds. If I had waited another 3 months, it would have come down a couple of hundred Euros in price, but I’d have to pay extra for wireless buds. As I was already researching wireless buds, I jumped in.
The initial experience was disappointing. It managed to copy over the photos, SMS etc. but the Samsung OneUI is not as flexible as EMUI, at least not when it comes to widgets. I couldn’t replicate my home screen on the Samsung, because I couldn’t resize the Audible and PocketCasts widgets and the text was a lot smaller, with much more white space around them. I think this frustration coloured my initial thoughts about the phone. In the end, I managed to approximate the old layout and I’ve grown used to the tiny text in the widgets.
The battery last about as long as the Mate 10 Pro (on an average day there is between 50% and 60% battery remaining). It feels like it drains quicker - the Mate 10 Pro would still be at 100% after showering and driving to work, listening to a podcast the whole time (around 45 minutes), the S20+ is down to around 97%. But I think this is just the Huawei showing full power longer, by the end of the day they had evened out. Both have a 4,500mAh battery. Given the S20+'s Exynos processor is faster than the older Kyrin in the Mate, that means that Samsung has done a fairly good job on energy management.
The back camera have shown pretty good results so far. I haven’t tried the front camera (I probably used the front camera on the Mate 10 Pro less than half a dozen times in over 2 years of use, so don’t hold your breathe for a report on the S20+ front camera). The lenses and the sensor, along with Samsung’s software have provided some really great photos. The Mate 10 Pro had the best camera at the time it was launched, but it was always handicapped by the Huawei AI. It had a tendancy to oversaturate the images and, when it recognised people, it would “blow up” the heads, so that they looked almost like nodding-head dolls. It was subtle, but it still made all of the images look “funny”. What it did have was a real 2x optical zoom.
The S20+ seems a lot better, over all. The camera app is not so aggresive and the results so far have been very good. Not quite as good as with my Sony A6000, but definitely the best I’ve experienced on a smartphone. Zoom is not very good. Up to around 4x zoom works fine, but 10x and above is very grainy and “junk”, compared to a real camera, with a proper lens at a similar focal length equivalent. At the end of the day, digital zoom remains digital zoom and you lose image quality for a closer image.
When you look at the image in thumbnail or a small scaled image, it looks fine. As soon as you look at it on a large display or zoom in, it is horribly grainy.
On the other hand, some of the sunset shots I’ve made are really breathtaking.
Night mode is also very good and has produced some great shots, which I have shared on previous Photos of the week threads.
Like most phone cameras, it is great for landscapes on the default or wide lenses without zooming. If you really need to aggressively zoom in to get the image, you still need a real camera with decent glass.
I haven’t played around with the other camera modes, like live shot yet. I’ve just used normal camera settings and night mode. I am pretty much an old-school photographer that frames their shot and I little to no post processing.
I spent a lot of time getting rid of the Samsung and Google crud that comes pre-installed, and the Facebook spyware. I’ve pared it down as much as I can and the system is fairly clean and very smooth.
I don’t use Google apps for anything - I have Google Play Store still on the phone, but Chrome, Duo, Maps, “Google” (search, assistant and news panel), Fotos and the other stuff are all either disabled or deinstalled. The same goes for the Samsung equivalents, everything is disabled or deinstalled where possible.
All the apps I do use run smoothly. The interesting thing is the games, they don’t get stretched to fill the whole screen, you are left with thick black borders left and right (landscape mode), which made it feel like a 5 year old phone!
The screen is great. Really clear and sharp. I turned off the over saturation and went with the more natural colours and I find it is fine. It isn’t as curved on the sides as the previous models (6 - 10). I think this also added to the feeling of it being not such a big step forward from the Mate 10 Pro, this also has lightly curved edges. My wife’s S10 feels very different, compared to the M10, the S20+ feels similar.
But the screen quality is much better.
I tried the 120Hz mode, but didn’t really see any really noticeable difference in scrolling in Firefox, for example, so I’ve left it at 60Hz for better battery life. It was a “bit” smoother, but certainly not a big enough gain to waste battery on.
This is probably the phones biggest weakness. If you are in a major city with good reception, the S20+ is great. I live in a small down at the bottom of a hill. Outside the house, I get around 15mbps down, 8mbps up LTE on both the Mate 10 Pro and the S20+.
In the house, I get around 12mbps/6mbps from the Mate 10 Pro and about half signal strength.
The S20+, on the other hand, gets around 1mbps down, 3mbps up and 1 bar signal strength.
At work, it is even worse. I get around 0.033mbps (slow enough that my providers Speedtest app says that there is no Internet connection). The Huawei is better (0.2mbps), but still slow enough that it isn’t worth bothering with. The Huawei reports edge with half bars, the Samsung reports “emergency calls only” some of the time.
This is also not a Galaxy S20+ problem.
I swapped my wife from a Huawei PSmart (200€ phone) to a Galaxy S10 in January and that is exactly the same. The Huawei PSmart had a decent signal (different network to my phone), while the S10 barely gets a signal in the house or at work.
As the phones are on Wi-Fi at home, that didn’t bother me too much. But if you live in an area with poor LTE reception, a Samsung is definitely the wrong brand of phone.
I have kept the S20+. It is a nice device, a step forward from the Mate 10 Pro, especially in the camera department, but it is severly let down by poor antenna design, if you are in an area with already weak reception. The Huawei is much better.
The camera and the display are excellent, although telephoto/zoom is nothing to write home about - as with nearly all phone camera.
It is fast and the UI is smooth and it runs all the applications.
For me, the most important things are a) as little Google as possible and b) security updates. I’m hoping Samsung keeps the 3 year guarantee and provides timely updates for the phones life.
(And, no, an iPhone is not an option, I don’t like iOS.)